A: With the abundance of streaming platforms, TV writers’ rooms are fertile ground for writers looking to break into the professional world. In his Master Class: Episodic Writing, showrunner Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) said that he will read over 100 scripts to staff up on a new show. One of the primary things he looks for is proof that the applicant can come up with original ideas. He advises that, once you get past the pilot, “really everything’s up for grabs, and you’re trying to find your show,” so even new writers have the opportunity to shape its direction. When pitching ideas in the room, “You’ve got to come up with something new and you have to take big swings,” so the script you submit to apply for the job should reflect that willingness. Once your script has gotten you in the door, you need to prove that you can be an “idea generator.” Mazzara says, “If I’m in my writer’s room and something’s not working, I leave. I get a piece of paper and I write down 20 alternatives,” and he wants to hire people who can do the same.
Aside from your imagination and plain old writing skills, there are desirable qualities that will make you stand out in pretty much every job: working hard and supporting your boss and team. As Mazzara says, “You know, I don’t want to feel like someone is, oh, this is this kind of show and that could be a good credit. Or, oh, Glen Mazzara likes to mentor people. So that’ll help my career. I want you to be somebody that I feel is gonna work hard for me…. Your thing is to figure out: how do I work for [the showrunner] and deliver what they want? So that’s really what I want—someone who’s dedicated both to the material and to the job.”